information overload

ISIT is a pretty huge conference — for every paper that I see presented, I miss 7 others in parallel sessions. Oftentimes they put very popular papers in small rooms, which only enhances the crowdedness I feel. Today is the last day, so things are thinning out a bit, which is nice.

A frustrating thing I’ve come to realize is that it takes me a woefully long time to figure out that a paper is pretty uninteresting. I spend a fair amount of time trying to really understand what is going on, often in spite of the presentation, only to have a conversation with another group member about it later on that makes it clear that the result was not that interesting. Of course, “interesting” is subjective, but perhaps it is best to go into talks with a healthy dose of skepticism to avoid the rollercoaster ride of excitement and disappointment.

A second problem is that the nametags are hung around the necks, so if you try to read the name of a female conference attendee you invariably look like you are ogling her chest. Given the gender ratio at this conference it must make it awfully uncomfortable for them.